Unless you’re on the “nerd” side of WordPress (like me), you may not have been aware of something that has been quietly building around the WordPress Block editor (also known as Gutenberg). It’s “full site editing” or FSE.
Some (many) of you may already be familiar with similar style editing using a builder theme or plugin such as Elementor, Avada, or Divi. Those tend to give you a full site editing experience.
But “full site editing” in core WordPress based on the block editor is different. And it entirely changes the game.
It also means that if you are a developer of anything WordPress (such as plugins or themes) and you have not embraced the block editor, you had better get on the ball.
What is FSE?
The “official” short definition comes from WordPress.com:
Simply put, it is an extension of the Block Editor to handle parts of your site beyond just the main content area (and the widget area, in case you didn’t notice that the Block Editor has expanded to absorb widgets now, too).
Will it replace builders?
I don’t think so – although I reserve the right to change my opinion on this. Builders like Divi or Elementor allow you to build a beautiful web site through their interface AND they each have built a very strong following. I know people who use them to crank out client sites because it’s an easy method of design once you master the interface.
That last part is the key to why I think builders will stay around:
Because “mastering the interface” is a bit of a time-consuming process, I don’t think power users of various builders will give up their builder in favor of something like FSE – at least not right away.
Besides, it is quite likely that the major players in the builder market will embrace FSE and incorporate it into their process.
How can I prepare?
The main theme to start with is of course from Automattic. It is called Blockbase and it’s a good place to start experimenting with FSE.
If you’re a theme developer – or at least familiar with how to customize themes – you’ll notice that the process of how you establish templates and such in the theme is different than a regular theme. So I highly recommend reviewing the WordPress Block Editor Handbook on the subject – especially the part about templates.
Keep in mind, this is NEW and is therefore experimental. Don’t dive off the deep end yet and start replacing everything you have with FSE themes. Keep up with what’s going on in FSE-land and make sure you understand the forward direction, but remember that things are subject to change.
Try out some FSE themes
Go find some FSE themes to play with and try out. I have tried a few and for now, nothing has made me simply roll over and give up on my favs (including the Genesis Framework). But understanding that FSE is changing the marketplace, it behooves even the die-hard Classic Editor power user to get with the program.
I have tried a few, and I will tell you that Frost is going to blow your mind. I’ve only just started trying out Frost as it is still new (at 0.8.0), but Brian Gardner has revolutionized the WordPress theme arena before and after looking at Frost, I would say he’s poised to do it again. Brian’s a minimalist in life, and that not only extends to his designs, but also into the code of his projects – if you are like me, you hate the bloated output of HTML that you get with some of the common builders, so you will be amazed at the efficient DOM of what Frost gives you.
I’ll be writing more soon about some of the FSE themes I’ve taken a look at to give you my thoughts. And 2022 has a lot of block editor projects for me with regards to WP-Members and other RocketGeek plugins, so you’ll likely be seeing more on the block editor and FSE from me as the year rolls on.